3 Words That Wouldn't Be Widespread Without Smartphones

Smartphones blasted into the world in 2007 and changed it - whether it's for the better or worse, only time will tell. These amazing devices have put a world of entertainment and information in our pockets, giving a voice to millions and millions over social networks, and making the world a much smaller place. The evolution of smartphones was incredibly fast - from the first models that were little more than glorified PDAs, today we've reached a stage when some of them are veritable supercomputers, with cameras that rival their professional counterparts from a decade ago, and internet at speeds that seemed unimaginable a few years ago. The contribution of smartphones to society and technology is undeniable - but how about their contribution to our vocabulary? There are quite a few words that, if it weren't for smartphones, wouldn't exist today.



Surprising as it may sound, the term "smartphone" was not born in 2007, the year the iPhone was released, but in 1995, after the launch of some handsets that are "dumb" by today's standards but were "smart" at the time. These handsets did more than just call and text - they had operating systems and they connected to more than just a mobile network. The term "smartphone" itself, in turn, didn't become widely used until the release of the iPhone and its many competitors more than a decade later.



Emoticons were used for quite some time to express emotions in the text - long before electronic writing devices, text editing software, even computers were invented. Emoji, in turn - the graphic representation of emotions - have emerged in the late 1990s, first in Japan, then all over the world. The first Japanese mobile phone - the J-Phone - to include Emoji had just 90 of them. Today, there are more than 1200 emoji in use (version 12 in Unicode 6.0) expressing pretty much everything, slowly becoming a language on its own. Emoji has become so integral to our modern times, Oxford Dictionaries has chosen the Face with Tears of Joy emoji - 😂 - as its Word of the Year in 2015.



Self-portraits have been around for centuries - they are the reason we know today how certain artists from the past looked, after all. But self-portraits became popular with the emergence of disposable and instant cameras, camera phones, and smartphones. Once again, the term "selfie" predates smartphones - it emerged sometime in the early 2000s. Its first documented use occurred in 2002 when a user known as Hopey on an Australian forum threw it into the common knowledge. Still, the term "selfie" didn't become widespread until much later - and smartphones had a major contribution to its spread. While some camera phone models in the early 2000s did have front-facing cameras, they didn't become widespread until years later. Today, a front-facing camera is the norm, good for both video calls and taking selfies. And the latter is much more popular than the former.